Motorcycle ‘ape-hangers’ to make comeback?

CONCORD — Sen. Andrew Hosmer, a Democrat from Laconia, has introduced legislation to repeal the statute restricting the height of handlebars on motorcycles and return so-called “ape-hangers” to the roads of the Granite State.
New Hampshire is now among more than 30 states that limit the height of handlebars. The statute prohibits motorcycles fitted with grips “higher than than the shoulder level of the driver when in the seat or saddle.” It also prohibits riding a motorcycle with “improvised, defective, or repaired handlebars.”
Hosmer could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
“I applaud Sen. Hosmer for sponsoring this bill,” said Charlie St. Clair, executive director of the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association.
He noted that New Hampshire began regulating handlebars in 1967, a time when many state legislatures associated motorcycling with the counter-culture captured by films like “The Wild Ones” and “Easy Rider.”
“I have never heard the height of handlebars presented as a safety issue,” he said. “There is no history of accidents caused by high bars.”
“Law enforcement pulled people over for high bars as a tool for probable cause,” St. Clair said. “An excuse to stop motorcyclists.”
Without a federal standard, the regulation of handlebars on motorcycles rests with the states. Initially New Hampshire restricted the height of handlebars to 15 inches above the saddle, a limit that applies in about a dozen states. New Hampshire later chose to set a limit bearing some relationship to the size of the rider and is one of 10 states that peg the height of handlebars to the height of the shoulder while another five require the handlebars to be below the height of the shoulder.
St. Clair said that states, prodded by motorcycle enthusiasts, have begun to repeal restrictions and currently 18 states impose no limits. In July, South Dakota, which hosts the famed annual rally in Sturgis, became the most recent state to repeal its shoulder level statute.
“I definitely want New Hampshire to be on that list,” St. Clair said of the states without restrictions. “We are home to the oldest motorcycle rally in the world and only South Dakota has more registered motorcycles (per capita) than New Hampshire. Repealing an unnecessary law that is no benefit to anybody would make the state of New Hampshire more welcoming to motorcyclists not just during Laconia Motorcycle Week but throughout the year,” he said.
Senate Bill 360 has been referred to the Senate Transportation Committee. A hearing has yet to be scheduled.

Belmont police need help with BB gun vandalism

BELMONT — Police are investigating a string of vandalism incidents, throughout town, being caused by someone or some people shooting a BB gun at building and cars.

In a statement issued Thursday, Lt. Rich Mann said police have fielded eight reports since Nov. 1. Targets have included private homes, automobile windows, commercial truck windows, commercial businesses and town property.

Mann said the total damage over the past two months is reaching into the thousands of dollars.

He said police believe the vandal or vandals are mobile because the attacks are spread throughout the town. At least one resident, said Mann, reported hearing a car slow in front of his house and realized the next day their car window had been shot.

Mann said anyone with any information is asked to call the Belmont Police Department at 267-8350. Callers may remain anonymous.

He said police are particularly interested in hearing from people who have or are noticing unusually slow cars driving in their neighborhood during the evening through early morning hours.

Gilford girls take Holiday Basketball Tournament title with 61-50 win over Laconia

GILFORD — The Laconia girls can hope that, in the big picture, history repeats itself.

A year ago, the Sachems faced rival Gilford four times and their only victory came in the final game of the Lakes Region Holiday Basketball Tournament, played annually in the Golden Eagles home gym.

This year, the two teams are once again among the very best NHIAA Division III has to offer and both entered the 42nd Holiday Tournament with perfect records, and again advanced to championship game.

On Thursday evening, Maddie Harris scored 23 points and three other Golden Eagles joined her in double figures as Gilford won the title, 61-50. The teams will face off at least two more times — home and home — during the regular season and will perhaps again meet up in the season-ending state tournament. Laconia would be happy to turn the tables and take three of four this season.

After a racehorse first quarter that saw the rivals combine for 38 points, Gilford outscored Laconia 14-8 over the second 8 minutes to expand its lead from 4 to 10, 35-25. Behind Natalie Compton, the Sachems roared back with a 16 point third period to narrow the gap a little but eventually came no closer than the 4 point spread that brought that had Laconia roaring midway through the final quarter.

Tournament Most Outstanding Player Cassidy Bartlett scored 12 for Gilford and Brooke Beaudet and Stevie Orton were right behind her with 11 and 10.

Compton topped Laconia scorers with 22 points, 15 in the second half. Kailey Nute was the only other Sachem in double figures, with 13.

Laconia returns to regular season play on Tuesday night, hosting Plymouth. Gilford plays at Belmont that same night.


The boys' championship game at the Holiday Tournament was not nearly so competitive as the girls'. Winnisquam Regional kept its perfect record intact with an easy 65-36 win over Kingswood Regional of Wolfeboro.

The Bears sprinted out to 15-3 lead after one quarter of play and extended the gap to 30-12 by half-time.

Tim Harmon scored 20 points to lead Winnisquam and Michael Buxton was good for 17. Tournament Most Outstanding Player Christian Serrano added 12 more.

Kingswood's meager offensive effort was led by Patrick Meyers, who scored 11.

Winnisquam gets back to regular season work on Tuesday, when the Bears host Franklin.